Feminine Law : Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire book cover
1st Edition

Feminine Law
Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire

ISBN 9781782202776
Published March 21, 2016 by Routledge
330 Pages

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Book Description

Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire explores the conjunction between psychoanalysis and democracy, in particular their shared commitments to free speech. In the process, it demonstrates how lawful constraints enable an embodied space or "gap" for the potentially disruptive but also liberating and novel flow of desire and its symbols. This space, intuited by the First Amendment as it is by Freud's free association, enables personal and collective sovereignty. By naming a "feminine law," we mark the primacy a space between the conceivable and the inconceivable, between knowledge and mystery. What do political free speech and psychoanalytic free association have in common, besides the word "free"? And what do Sigmund Freud and Justice Louis Brandeis share besides a world between two great wars? How is the female body a neglected key to understanding the conditions and contradictions of free discourse? Drs. Jill Gentile and Michael Macrone take up these questions, and more, in their wide-ranging, often passionate exploration of the hidden legacy of Freud and the Founding Fathers.



Jill Gentile


Creatively bringing together the Founding Fathers and the father of psychoanalysis, Jill Gentile begins with the foundational ideas of free speech in democracy and free association on the couch, opening up a fascinating unexplored space that illuminates the magic of language and the paradoxes, limits, and complexities at the heart of desire. This is an erudite, bravura performance that makes good on a long deferred hope that psychoanalysis can bring deeper understanding to our political confusions. --George Makari, MD, author of Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind and Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis


Jill Gentile has written a passionate love letter to psychoanalysis and democracy, to free association and free speech. Reaching beyond the phallocentrism of earlier psychoanalytic thought, Gentile reconfigures feminine 'lack' as a generative space of potentiality. Gentile revolutionizes Freudian theory while deftly paying homage to what was revolutionary about it in the first place. The effect of her stunningly erudite and original interpretation is akin to what Alain Badiou calls a 'truth-event': it shatters conventional mythologies regarding femininity and its (lack of) social status, and reveals a whole new universe of (feminine) possibility. --Mari Ruti, PhD, Professor of Critical Theory, University of Toronto, and author of Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics


The repudiation of femininity can be nothing else than a biological fact, a part of the great riddle of sex. So stated Freud. Jill Gentile takes this assumption as an invitation to go beyond, in this rich and expansive exploration of the possibility of naming the feminine. Ranging across semiotics, political theory, and the panoply of contemporary psychoanalysis, Gentile renews both clinical theory and democratic philosophy. Playful and incisive, this work opens new spaces for contemplation. --David Lichtenstein, PhD, editor of DIVISION/Review